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skyhskyh

Percolator vs Plunger vs Siphon vs Espresso Machine

62 posts in this topic

I would like to know the following:

How do you like your coffee? Black, with sugar, with cream, with both?

What strength do you like - strong, as with a dark roast, or ????

Do you like espresso-based coffee drinks? Either plain espresso, with steamed milk, foamed milk or ???

I think all these factors need to be known before you spend $$$$ on equipment that you may not use and will simply gather dust.

If you like the regular coffees served at some places, ask how they brew it. Go to a place that sells premium coffees and ask questions.

Some coffees, depending on how they are roasted and how they are ground, taste better when brewed one way and not so good when brewed another way.

For instance: Dark roast coffees do not benefit from percolator brewing. They are great when brewed in a French press, assuming you know the "trick" of how to use one to best advantage, or in a vacuum pot.

Vacuum pots were popular for many decades because they were (and are) virtually foolproof and produce an excellent brew if "regular" coffee is your drink of choice.

As noted above, the beans with which you start are of greatest importance. In my opinion, it is better to buy coffee from a store that specializes in roasting and grinding to order, buy in small amounts, and brew with Pour-over, French press or vacuum brewer.

Years ago I went through my share of inexpensive espresso machines, some not-so-inexpensive and because I could never master the technique of tamping, ended up with a very expensive superautomatic.

And then after the "new" had worn off, seldom used it. Great dust catcher though.

A few months ago a friend who lives in the Bay area took a Coffee Masters Class - doesn't plan on becoming a professional, just wanted more knowledge.

You might check to see if there is anything like this in your area.

Once you know exactly what you consider the "perfect cup" - then you can learn how to achieve it

- and before you spend a lot of money on something that may or may not work for you.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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[snip]

if you preheat your glass FR, and take water just off the boil, ie a few bubbles still but not too many you get the correct temp without the probe.

the probe is great fun, but not needed by a beginner. the bubbles tell the story.

the amount of coffee by gm is far more important in a given the fixed volume ie in an espresso portafileter,

an volume measure works fine for a beginner.

after all, our friend might really like different coffee that does not need this degree of sophitication.

one step at a time.

after all, I hear people like the coffee that Dunkin Donuts makes.

I think thats great for them.

Have you ever actually measured the temperature of water "just off the boil?" For me, it stays at about 210F for a long time--it's a terrible way to get ~201F water with my setup. If someone's got a budget of $250, a thermometer is an excellent use of money. Will it make or break the coffee? Probably not. But 1) it eliminates a major variable, as Zachary points out, and 2) you can use it all over the kitchen. I get more use out of my thermapen than any other appliance in my kitchen other than the stove and the microwave. I break it out every time I cook any non-braised meat, and any time I make coffee or tea. And you can now get decent thermocouple models for $40 or less. Can you make coffee without it? Yeah, and not owning one or not having the budget for one shouldn't stop you from making your own coffee. But IMO the benefit is huge relative to the cost.

I'd agree that maybe a gram scale is unnecessary--you can pretty consistently measure water and beans by volume. It may be hard to be accurate, but you can be pretty precise and repeatable, especially with larger volumes.

If OP prefers DD/diner coffee, loaded up with cream and sugar, there's no need for this sort of sophistication. Preground coffee from the grocery store and Mr Coffee will replicate that just fine. But you probably don't need to ask eGullet or CoffeeGeek for help with that.

One thing that should probably come out of this is that it's fairly cheap to switch from french press to pourover to moka, or add a thermometer, scale, electric kettle, etc. You wind up with a lot more sunk cost if you decide to upgrade your grinder. Therefore, it's probably best to put most of your startup budget into the grinder. It's also the place with the strongest price:performance correlation.

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is there any difference in buying already grounded beans VS buy non-grinded beans and grind at home? isn't the same since the goal is just to grind them into small pieces?? :blink:

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Once you grind beans, they start losing their aroma and flavour components. There is so much difference between already ground and freshly ground beans that you cannot get "best" coffee from pre-ground, period.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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today's NYTimes magazine:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/10/02/magazine/29mag-food-issue.html#/drinks?ref=todayspaper

i do not agree with the end of thelast paragraph: green coffee beans keep a very long time if sealed with minimal air. that why I have the weston sealer not the food saver for my SV: it;s bag is thicker and will keep air out and ice crystals from damaging the bag in the freezer if you choose to freeze your green coffee beans.

how can one compare coffee beans with fish?

:blink:


Edited by rotuts (log)

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no thats not it at all

green coffee beans keep in sacks for quite some time. after of course they are processed.

some say a year in cool dry conditions.

geen beans that are very complex can keep for a very long time in vacuum bags.

this is an example of a writer knowing a far amount about coffee, the drink, and how to make it, but very little about processed green beans.

http://www.sweetmarias.com/greenstorage.php

remember this is about high end green beans, not cheaply produced green coffee. and certainly not roasted coffee.

but even freshly roasted coffee once the CO2 has evaporated can keep for a good while in a vacuum pack bag. that bag in the freezer a good long time. just defrost completely before you open to keep the beans dry.


Edited by rotuts (log)

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The same can be said of salt cod....

I used to live and work (for a plantation, no less) in the heart of Ecuadorian coffee country - one of the areas that produces beans that retail in the US for upwards of $20 a pound, so I know from high end green beans and proper processing methods. I do believe that upthread I reccomended getting a good grinder and coffeepot, and then spending the rest on great coffee beans.... I still search out the beans from the cooperative I worked for (Gremio de Cariamanga), even now that I live some half the country north of there - it's worth the extra 50 cents a pound to me because I know how those particular beans have been handled, and I know that the quality is as high as I can afford while still buying local (which is a big thing for me - I prefer to support my adopted country.)


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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you are absolutely correct, but im not sure salted coffee beans would work ..

that beaning said

you are very correct about individual plantations and the time and effort to process correctly matter a great deal.

i was only hoping to point out that fine small lot green coffee with very little effort can be kept very very close to fresh with little effort.

SM sells a lot of central american small lot coffees. those who appreciate this type should know they can be kept in peak condition for quite some time.

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I was more pointing out that a year's aging does both bacalao and cafe verde a great deal of good. :smile:

I also agree that it's very easy to keep small lots of green or even freshly-roasted coffee in near-fresh condition (which is why I buy my beans the way I do.) I don't have much opportunity to sample the Central American coffees, but I will say that if anybody up there in the great cold North gets a chance at coffee from Ecuador's Cariamanga, Vilcabamba, or El Oro regions, it's truly excellent. These are high-altitude plantations of Arabica beans that are extremely well cared for from cherry to final product.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Anyone here have good experiences with the Aeropress?

From what I understand it;s better than drip filtered and not as much sediment and oil as French press.

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Good morning,

So, an overview of different methods for making coffee? I'm going to talk about things I'm familiar with, and let's start with easy:

French Press

Pros: Cheap, Durable, Simple to brew, direct contact of water with coffee for the entire brewing process, full body in the cup. No paper filters. Can be used to do a "French Pull".

Cons: Cleanup can be a bit messy, fine grounds will be left in the cup, coffee can be "oily".

V60

Pros: Cheap, durable, clean cup, medium body, more "transparent" flavors.

Cons: Buying paper filters, limited volume for grounds, takes a bit of practice to fine tune brewing method.

Chemex

Pros: Durable, clean cup, light to medium body, good transparency, large volume for grounds.

Cons: Buying paper filters, takes a bit of practice to fine tune brewing method, slower than V60 or FP.

Aeropress

Pros: Approximates espresso (sometimes), lots of versatility, great for traveling/camping

Cons: Steep learning curve, instructions in the box are worthless, lots of work for a small volume of coffee, not going to give the "espresso experience".

To answer some other questions: You should always buy whole beans from a reputable roaster that were roasted less than two weeks before you're buying them. Look for a roasted on date - not a "best by" date, which can be six months in the future. The problem with pre-ground coffee is that if you can smell the coffee, those aroma chemicals are not going to be in your cup. You should always grind coffee immediately before brewing.

Thanks,

Zachary

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Good morning,

So, an overview of different methods for making coffee? I'm going to talk about things I'm familiar with, and let's start with easy:

French Press

Pros: Cheap, Durable, Simple to brew, direct contact of water with coffee for the entire brewing process, full body in the cup. No paper filters. Can be used to do a "French Pull".

Cons: Cleanup can be a bit messy, fine grounds will be left in the cup, coffee can be "oily".

V60

Pros: Cheap, durable, clean cup, medium body, more "transparent" flavors.

Cons: Buying paper filters, limited volume for grounds, takes a bit of practice to fine tune brewing method.

Chemex

Pros: Durable, clean cup, light to medium body, good transparency, large volume for grounds.

Cons: Buying paper filters, takes a bit of practice to fine tune brewing method, slower than V60 or FP.

Aeropress

Pros: Approximates espresso (sometimes), lots of versatility, great for traveling/camping

Cons: Steep learning curve, instructions in the box are worthless, lots of work for a small volume of coffee, not going to give the "espresso experience".

To answer some other questions: You should always buy whole beans from a reputable roaster that were roasted less than two weeks before you're buying them. Look for a roasted on date - not a "best by" date, which can be six months in the future. The problem with pre-ground coffee is that if you can smell the coffee, those aroma chemicals are not going to be in your cup. You should always grind coffee immediately before brewing.

Thanks,

Zachary

There are companies that make high quality metal filters specifically designed for Chemex brewers, for example the Coava Kone.

Also, while the Aeropress makes a very nice cup of coffee in the right hands, I would not say it approximates espresso or anything like espresso. The mechanics of brewing are extremely different between the two methods as is the final cup. I've heard the claim that an Aeropress produces an Americano like beverage and can agree to an extent, but anyone buying the Aeropress and expecting anything like an espresso is going to be disappointed.


Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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avaserfirer@egstaff.org

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Andrew,

You are, of course, right in that metal filters are available. They're gorgeous, and I'm sure they work well, but at $50... that's 20% of the OP's budget.

And about the Aeropress - I struggle with it. The problem is that on their website, they call it a "Coffee and Espresso Maker". I think they overpromise what it can realistically do, and the instructions in the box are counter to everything I know about coffee - they call for 175 degree water and a 10 second infusion before pressing, and calls the resulting liquid a "double espresso".

Even worse, if you look on Youtube, there are hundreds of videos of people hacking the thing. I don't think anyone can agree how to actually use it to make coffee.

Thanks,

Zachary

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And about the Aeropress - I struggle with it. The problem is that on their website, they call it a "Coffee and Espresso Maker". I think they overpromise what it can realistically do, and the instructions in the box are counter to everything I know about coffee - they call for 175 degree water and a 10 second infusion before pressing, and calls the resulting liquid a "double espresso".

My feelings exactly. With a little tweaking (like the water temp) you can "brew" a decent enough cup of coffee - certainly better than Dunkin' Donuts or that ilk.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

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on the box I think they claim to make Expresso, at least according to Tom's at SM box.

:laugh:

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The confusion re:Espresso comes in, I think, because the resultant brew is stronger then drip coffee and they don't really have a term for it ('very strong coffee' would be off putting). Then they go off an ride that horse way too far, but I still see they have the urge to call it Espresso.

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Zachary's post Same with coffee - you have to start with good coffee.

Yes, but where do you get THAT?

Where do you live?

Toronto. Fairly new here and still haven't found great coffee. A few coffee joints here make good espresso, but I like a nice cuppa clear coffee for daytime. So far, all the beans I've tried have given very meh coffee.

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Anyone here have good experiences with the Aeropress?

From what I understand it;s better than drip filtered and not as much sediment and oil as French press.

I tried it. A person who is supposed to be very knowledgeable in its use also brewed coffee for me in it as I was informed I was "doing it wrong" or not using it properly. I was not impressed either with the several brews I made or with the few times it was prepared for me by the so-called expert with freshly roasted and ground coffee he provided.

The same person tried to interest me in a Technivorm Moccamaster but I was not at all impressed with it either. I can't stand "stale" coffee, which is why I like the single cup brewers especially the one that allows me to make my own pods with my own freshly roasted and ground coffee.

To my taste, coffee that stands on a burner for more than twenty minutes begins to taste "stale" to me. This is the reason I rarely drink coffee in restaurants and only under duress! :laugh:


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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You can actually make some very nice coffee with an Aeropress if you completely ignore the instructions. First, buy a Coava metal filter. Use something approximating a pour over grind. Invert the Aeropress and put about 18g of coffee in it. Pour around 210g of hot water in, very slowly. Wait about 50 seconds, then stir for 10 seconds. Put the filter and lid on, flip it back over and press slowly, just using the weight of your hands. Quick, easy, delicious, and simple cleanup.

ETA: Oh, and forgot to add: water temp should be high 190s-low 200s F. Not 175.


Edited by MikeHartnett (log)

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watch the vid. as noted above.

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I can't stand "stale" coffee, which is why I like the single cup brewers especially the one that allows me to make my own pods with my own freshly roasted and ground coffee.

To my taste, coffee that stands on a burner for more than twenty minutes begins to taste "stale" to me.

I make 2-3 cups in a Chemex, pour off one cup, and put the rest in a Thermos carafe. It keeps pretty well for an hour or so. Maybe longer, but I usually drink it all within an hour.

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Technivorm is said to make the 'best' drip of the automatic drips based on the fact its the only one that has its water at the proper temp. about 205.

none of the other automatics get close.

I dont have one but trust those you have looked at it.

once you get something like the Alexia PID, I rarely drink drip.

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Toronto. Fairly new here and still haven't found great coffee. A few coffee joints here make good espresso, but I like a nice cuppa clear coffee for daytime. So far, all the beans I've tried have given very meh coffee.

A quick search shows that Manic Coffee carries Intellegentsia's beans - gets them delivered freshly roasted a few times a week, according to the web site...that might be a good start.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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